PageBot and the Evolution of the Page Turner

For those of us who have physical disabilities, performing everyday tasks like brushing your hair or feeding yourself becomes a very painstaking and arduous task. While these types of efforts are understood and known by what we call the able-bodied community, other efforts are highly overlooked including things like accessing books and periodicals. Reading a book for most is a subconscious effort of turning pages while being engrossed in the story line. However, if you do not possess the ability to move your arms and/or hands, reading a book then becomes a multi-person event where losing one’s train of thought is a common occurrence.

As disabilities become more commonplace in our society, attempts have been made to address such issues with the use of adaptive equipment or assistive technologies. In regard to reading books, the automatic page turner turned up several decades ago, but they were very bulky and somewhat archaic. The Abilia GEWA Page Turner is a very accurate page turning apparatus. However, its hefty size demands a stationary setting that dictates the user must be in the exact same place every time they choose to read a book or magazine.

The Flip Automatic Page Turner is a much more lightweight and portable page turning solution. It does a good job of addressing freedom of movement and the ability to choose where you want to read. Accuracy is good, but the size is still an issue and will require some type of table or stand to be able to read a book comfortably.

Either of these are a good choice if you want to sit in the same place each time you read or be next to some type of furniture in order to place your page turner. But what if you want the freedom to be outdoors or somewhere like a waiting room and still have the ability to read? Enter PageBot for Kindle.

I am lucky enough to work for the company who developed the new PageBot for Kindle and got to spend some time with the PageBot for Kindle DX. A high-level quadriplegic, I utilize a lapboard that goes across my arms of my wheelchair. Within seconds of un-boxing the PageBot, I was able to simply set the device which was holding a Kindle DX on my lapboard and began turning pages.

PageBot is extremely lightweight and can very easily be attached to a wheelchair armrest or pretty much any other desirable surface. The accompanying mounting arm simply screws into the back of the PageBot and you are off and reading. A separate portable USB battery pack can be connected to PageBot allowing for complete freedom from the Kindle power adapter.

My number one kudo for PageBot is the learning curve. It only took me a couple of sips and puffs (on my Sip/Puff switch) before knowing which switch activated the Next Page and Previous Page functions. The dual switch activation allows me to simply plug in one stereo cable and utilize both sip and puff to activate the PageBot. If you utilize other types of switches (i.e., a single Jelly switch), there are two ports in the back of the PageBot as well as a USB hub.

Now for the bad news: PageBot only controls the Next Page and Previous Page functions at this time. It would be great for the page turner to have complete access to all of the Kindle’s capabilities. I personally believe, however, that the lack of access to the Kindle is heavily outweighed by the freedom and ability to read wherever I choose rather than being confined to one or two locations.

You are probably thinking that I have a built-in bias because of my connection to the manufacturer. Yes, I am especially excited about this huge advancement in reading assistive technology. However, as a twenty-two year quadriplegic, I see the PageBot as an excellent leap in the right direction for independence in reading whatever I like; wherever I want.